let’s not throw in the towel too soon! ”

FIGAROVOX / TRIBUNE – The Quai d’Orsay intends to reduce French civilian activity in Afghanistan as much as possible. This decision has only the appearance of common sense and plunges into the disarray of remarkable NGOs like the Franco-Afghan Friendship, argues Jean de Ponton d’Amécourt, former French ambassador in Kabul.

Jean de Ponton d’Amécourt is former Director of Strategic Affairs at the Ministry of Defense and former French Ambassador to Afghanistan.


The Taliban are not at the gates of Kabul, even if they multiply, throughout the country, the attacks and attacks, deadly for the security forces as for the civilian populations. The legitimate government, which still relies on large Afghan military and police forces, still holds the capital and most of the urban centers of the provinces.

However, based on a particularly pessimistic analysis of the situation, our embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have just taken, in the greatest secrecy, a dramatic decision: all the Afghan personnel, employed by France or reporting to development projects that it finances have been offered asylum in our country, for them and for their loved ones. 600 would have accepted, 140 would have already arrived in our territory.

Let us understand well what is at stake. It is not this time about these civilian auxiliaries of our armies, recruited for the most part between 2002 and 2014, of which, long after the withdrawal of the French forces, the life was – and still remains. today – seriously threatened, in particular the former translators: in 2020 again, only 260 of them had been repatriated to France, out of a total of around 800 concerned.

No, this time, we are talking about civilian personnel employed by the services of the embassy or by the NGOs working for them. Most NGOs, gathered around a collective, are moved and rebelled. Like AFRANE-Amitié Franco-Afghane- active for forty years in education, and which has published, since the same period, the reference review The news d’Afghanistan, they fear that this decision, from which some of their staff may or could nevertheless “benefit”, does not carry the appropriate message, or even prefigures a total abandonment.

Éric Cheysson, tireless president of La Chaine de l’Espoir, storm. Its Institute for Mother and Child employs nearly 1,000 people in Afghanistan. He is opposed to the departure of this staff who, for him, is not threatened and must continue his mission.

Jean de Ponton d’Amécourt

Éric Cheysson, tireless and energetic president of La Chaine de l’Espoir, storm. Its Institute for Mother and Child, a remarkable institution, financed in large part by France and co-managed with the Aga Khan Development Network, employs nearly 1,000 people in Afghanistan. He categorically opposes the departure of these personnel who, for him, are not threatened and must first continue their mission.

However, nothing helps: fearing, it seems, the worst, our officials maintain their decision.

The French personnel, for their part, remain on site, but, for lack of human resources, it is all France’s activity in terms of economic, cultural, health, training and education cooperation that could be achieved. see thus quickly reduced to nothing.

What is more, we are going it alone: ​​the other European countries do not seem to have budged and almost all the ambassadors of the member countries of the European Union, present in Kabul, are indignant or astonished at the absence of any prior consultation with France.

The highest Afghan authorities, themselves engaged in a deadly fight with the Taliban, were hardly informed. This hasty decision cuts the grass under the feet of the Afghan government, as it leads the tough negotiation of a future peace settlement, including the announced departure of the Americans and the probable entry of the Taliban into the government of the country. and its provinces.

The Franco-Afghan friendship and cooperation treaty, signed on January 27, 2012, by President Nicolas Sarkozy and President Hamed Karzai, (once in power, President Hollande subscribed to it and had it ratified by his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius) is, de facto, thrown away, even though we should have celebrated next year the hundredth anniversary of the opening of diplomatic relations between our two countries and the creation of the prestigious French Archaeological Delegation in Afghanistan (DAFA).

The Franco-Afghan friendship, so old, further strengthened by the epic of the French-doctors during the fight against the Soviet invasion, was it not yet warmly celebrated, on March 26, by our Minister of Foreign Affairs , Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, while receiving Mr. Abdullah Abdullah, President of the Council for Afghan National Reconciliation, who came to Paris on the occasion of the inauguration of a plaque in the name of Commander Ahmed Shah Massoud ?

How can we now cope with the influx of Afghan migrants, legal or illegal, who are already the first nationality of asylum seekers?

Jean de Ponton d’Amécourt

Moreover, the privileged admission to France, under the right of asylum, of more than 600 Afghan emigrants is not without risk. One could have imagined the establishment of a gradual repatriation plan, spread over time and closely linked to the development of the political and security situation there. It is the responsibility and the duty of an embassy in a country in crisis. This would at least have had the merit of not depriving our diplomatic representation of all human means, at a particularly sensitive time, while avoiding or, at the very least, slowing down a very probable explosion of Afghan emigration to our country.

How, in fact, can we now cope with the influx of Afghan migrants, legal or illegal, who are already the first nationality of asylum seekers and who, sensing the windfall effect, risk rushing forward? towards France, leaving our authorities very helpless to channel them or reject them without violating the spirit and the text of international conventions on emigration?

Alas, everywhere we pack our bags as quickly as possible in a rush. We are abandoning northern Syria, Libya, the whole of the Middle East, Afghanistan, discreetly, without fanfare or trumpets. Above all, no problems, no fuss!

Yet the voice of France is only great when it makes itself heard.

It may not be too late to pull yourself together.

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